Massively Exclusive: Hailan Rising's devs on PvP, death, and player loot tables

An interview with the industry vets of Hailan Rising
Hailan Rising is more than halfway through its Kickstarter campaign with quite a long trek still to go for funding, but we took a good look at the game's description and really liked what we saw. It's a game that is labeling itself as "DAoC meets CoD" and being developed by some important industry vets.

But as with any Kickstarter project, there are always questions. We see what's being promised with the game, but we want to know more. So we gathered together a few of our biggest concerns for the Reloaded Productions team to see what this thing is all about. As Kickstarter projects are still a dime a dozen these days, we want to know what sets the team's game apart from the rest. Follow along after the cut for our interview with Adam Smith and Jess Mulligan from Reloaded Productions.

Massively: Can you explain a bit more about the goal with Hailan Rising's PvP rules? Will it be open-world free-for-all PvP? Instanced? Server-based?

Reloaded Productions: Hailan Rising will have two types of zones: Neutral and Contested. Neutral zones will not be flagged for PvP. In neutral zones, players of all factions will have the ability to trade and interact with one another in safe PvE environments.

Contested zones will be all-out PvP battlegrounds, but each will have its own specific goal. Some maps will serve as weekly battleground points. Shores of Ashken is the first of the weekly battlegrounds to be released and will be available at launch. These types of zones are designed to throw hundreds of members from each faction into the battle to see who reigns supreme. The faction that wins the weekly war will receive bonuses until the time of the next war.

Other zones, such as Crater, will feature control points that will be contested on a nonstop basis. Did you or your guild conquer the evil dragon that is guarding the zone? If you did, then you are the owner of the zone and the benefits of controlling it are yours. But every other guild in the game is now going to be targeting you.

And then there are zones such as Shrieking Caverns that are meant for more casual players. These types of zones are able to be controlled only by an individual or a single group, not a guild or raid force. Expect these types of zones to change ownership often. The really cool thing about these types of zones is that once you are the owner of the zone, you will gain a small lifetime buff (such as a 1% bonus to HP) even if you control the zone for only a few seconds.

PvP will take place on three fronts: 1) Large Scale Server Wide Wars, 2) 24/7 Contested Control Points, and 3) Individual/Single Group Control Points.

And on top of all that, every PvP kill that you earn will add to your overall individual PvP ranking. So if you are just not interested in the territory control system, you still have the option to pursue the personal glory of being #1 and sitting atop the PvP rankings!

There's a huge focus on players being competitive right from the start, unlike most traditional MMOs. Are there still incentives in place for hardcore veteran players?

There are indeed incentives for hardcore players. While we have gone to great lengths to provide the player that only has 30 minutes the ability to attempt to take control of a small control point, we have given the hardcore players so many options that they will need to decide what their primary focus in the game is.

"Players will have the option to participate in whatever type of gameplay they want at any time. Although it is a PvP-focused game, the player will never be forced to PvP."

In most MMORPGs, the developer decides for you what the endgame is. Usually, you just end up starting over and grinding another character to level 50. Or you raid and re-raid and re-raid the same content until the next expansion pack comes along.

This will never be the case in Hailan Rising. In our world, a hardcore player may decide to never join a guild and make it his mission to (as previously stated) sit atop the PvP rankings. A hardcore player might decide to focus on maintaining control of an individual control point in a zone that he really enjoys. A hardcore player might join a hardcore guild that aims at maintaining control of multiple islands and enjoying the benefits that those control points provide.

And for those who do enjoy raiding the same content over and over again , we are providing a ton of PvE content for the classic raid guilds to enjoy. We have some giant dragons for players of that type to sharpen their swords on!

In this class-less and level-less game, players depend on what's known as the Etherea Tablet for skill and character progression. Does both PvP and PvE gameplay generate Etherea Shards equally? Can players switch back and forth at any time?

Players will have the option to participate in whatever type of gameplay they want at any time. Although it is a PvP-focused game, the player will never be forced to PvP. So why would a player who enjoys PvE play Hailan Rising?

For those who just want to go fight monsters and see what loot they can find in the world, Hailan Rising supports that. The players will not have to grind out 100 hours just so they can start fighting some cool minotaurs or trolls. How much fun is it to grind out rats and lizards when you start a new MMORPG? It was fun at a point in time, but the PC game market is at a point now where most gamers have played an MMORPG and been through the grind. It is a daunting task to grind through a PvE game just to get to the fun part.

If after a while players realize that they have really buffed up due to creating the build they really enjoy and bolstering that build with the proper Etherea Shards, they may decide they want to stick their feet into the PvP waters. And if they still just don't want to PvP after that, they can go right back to PvE.

As far as loot is concerned, Hailan Rising has one extremely unique feature that is only lightly touched in the Kickstarter video: Players have loot tables just like any mob.

"If you kill a player, you have to make the decision to either stop and loot your victim while risking getting waxed yourself or just keep on moving."

Take a minute to wrap your head around that one and let me explain that in more detail. When you die in PvP, you will not lose items to a player. Instead, the game tallies up your progression through the Etherea Tablet and yields a loot table when your corpse is on the ground. So if you have 10 abilities that are all at a +2 level, that means you have slotted 20 Etherea Shards, and that gives your character a specific loot table. If you kill a player that has maxed out all of his 10 abilities to +5, that means he has slotted 50 Etherea Shards, which of course means that player will be dropping the best PvP loot in the game.

That is the catch about being completely powered up in Hailan Rising -- it puts the biggest bull's-eye on you when it comes to PvP. In most PvP games, a player will flee from the biggest and baddest player on the battlefield. In our game, the most powerful players will always be under siege.

This adds another element of strategy into the PvP. If you kill a player, you have to make the decision to either stop and loot your victim while risking getting waxed yourself or just keep on moving.

Please be aware that we have put safeguards into place to prevent players from simply cheating and intentionally farming each other over and over again. Once you kill a specific player, there is a cooldown period before you can loot that same player again.

An interview with the industry vets of Hailan Rising
Are Etherea Shards respeccable? Or are the skill choices you make permanent?

Etherea Shards are certainly able to be respecced! We want to encourage players to try every wacky build that they can come up with. I'm sure you have seen the number of possible builds -- each of us on the dev team are always trying cool new combinations. The really awesome part about it is that our playtesters cannot agree on what the definite most-powerful cookie cutter build might be. Everyone is doing something completely different, and they are all competitive in PvP.

To get more detailed on respeccing though, you never lose your progress when you respec. Say you get a combat ability to +5 using the Etherea System, but you want to try a different ability. You have the option to respec away from that ability to get something else, but if you are unhappy with your new ability, you can respec right back to the +5 ability and it is still +5. All Etherea Shard slotting is permanent; you can try any new build that you might like at any time, all while having the knowledge that you can safely respec back to your preferred build and your progress will still be there!

Can you discuss the combat sliding mechanic?

Sliding was a bit of an accident as it was actually a mechanic that was an unintended by-product of one of our control schemes. Sliding is a mechanic that allows the players to maneuver their characters nonstop in whatever pattern they want while both auto-attacking and casting combat abilities on the move. It was actually a bug that allowed players to cast any ability without standing still. The players loved it so much and they felt that it sped up the combat so much that we went back and intelligently designed it.

Because of this we removed the time-old MMORPG tradition that forces magic type characters to sit still while casting. Hailan Rising is completely "Run-n-Gun." You will never be forced to sit in place while waiting for a spell to finish casting. This makes sliding even faster-paced.

Hailan Rising features three custom control schemes, but Sliding seems to be most effective in the click-to-move scheme. Our playtesters are loving the mechanic. In the click-to-move scheme you can lay down a 3-D marker on the screen that your character will continually move toward, which frees your hands from the WASD controls.

The WASD-free controls and Run-n-Gun casting make Hailan Rising's PvP the fastest I have ever seen.

An interview with the industry vets of Hailan Rising
Kickstarter has traditionally helped indie game developers who want to have a go at a game idea without interference from a publisher, but Hailan Rising already has a publisher. Do you see Kickstarter helping small publishers as much as indie developers?

Absolutely! Kickstarter is amazing for many reasons. In my mind though, there is one key point to it. Reloaded Productions is a sister company of Reloaded Games, which now owns GamersFirst. This means that we will not have to deal with a traditional publisher breathing down our neck, forcing ideas upon us that do not support the concept of the game. Instead, we are free to pursue our own unique design goals.

Kickstarter is going to allow dev teams to actually own their own IP and have the funding to distribute it themselves. It is radically different from the status quo that has overtaken the industry, and I really look forward to seeing the traditional walls between the developer and the audience torn down.

Several times in the Kickstarter description you mention that there will be further updates to give us info on certain game mechanics. Can you give us a run-down or bullet-point list of what info is planned to be released in these updates?

I don't want to give too much away as I want people to continually check out the Kickstarter page itself, but we are happy to leak a little info in a bulleted form early! Update 1 has already gone live and players have been informed that pet dragons and player-owned airships are on the way. So let's start there:
  • Pet dragons (update is already live)
  • Further clarification on airships
  • Armor sets (a feature on the VAST amount of armors and weapons that are in the game)
  • Territory Control specifics (released in Update #2)
  • Dynamic World Map system (real time updating map system that reflects the Territory Control status second by second)
  • New factions
  • Mobile plans -- an Android specific faction and an iOS specific faction
  • And much much more.
Thank you so much for your time!
This article was originally published on Massively.